An overwhelming flood of the bitter and the sweet so often accompany images of the place considered "home". Traveling back to Missouri through a countryside dotted with the familiar grain silos and baled hay brings back the longer days of childhood to my now, not-so-free mind, jammed with the thoughts and anxieties of 40 year old life. As I pass by all of the time worn, reworked landmarks of my younger years, I recount the significance of them all to my own children, who sit with disinterested faces, trying to generate some kind of appropriate response. "There," I said, "is the house where I grew up. There used to be more trees over there." After pointing out the once vacant lot, where forts were built, trees climbed, and I became king of the mountain, we pass by grandmother's house and the school, the park...and so on it went. We ate at Eddies, the drive-in where all the high school kids had lunch when I was in school and... when my mother and father were in school. With so much "familiar" in that small town clothed with memories, also came the changes, the new things added to the sameness of the landscape. Here and there, a new restaurant, a store, or a coffee shop threatened the nostalgia so heavy in the air. All of these things in sight, reminiscing replaced my desire to share the experience with the younger generation. Only yesterday, it seems, I crouched in bare feet, toes in the creek behind my childhood home, gingerly removing stones to reveal crawdads that would soon expire from neglect in a Folders can on the back porch. Freeing striped caterpillars from the darkness of their cocoons, one hundred things to do with mud and catalpa beans, and scraped knees, were replaced with the mundane business of living. Remembering the simplicity of childhood intermingled with the complexity of teenage dreams, was now given over to the reality of adult responsibility. Sunny days of bliss, much regret, tenderness, tears, all live in that small town called home, and the brevity of the journey, life, shouts through its memories. All this becomes a reminder that I am not really home. Home, the place my purpose was planned and my spirit conceived, and where I would return. Will I find a thread of the familiar along with the majesty, a feeling of home? 2 Corinthians 4:18 tells us to "fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." (NIV) Our images of home, varied as they may be, whether filled with joy or pain or more than likely some combination of the two, will one day give way to an eternal home "not built with human hands." No more regret, no tears, only the acceptance and comfort of a place called home.
But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness. 2 Peter 3:13 (NIV)